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Landmines stymie border gate launch

Landmines have slowed progress on a new border crossing between Cambodia and Thailand, which was hoped to reduce the volume of commercial transportation moving through a checkpoint in Poipet.

Thai and Cambodian officials were working to remove mines near the Stung Bath crossing in Banteay Meanchey province.

Officials said the crossing was expected to open in May 2013.

“Demining forces are working on this issues in both countries,” Ung Oeun, Banteay Meanchey provincal governor said yesterday, adding that the process required delicacy and an official opening of the gate would not happen until mid-2013.

The checkpoint would allow passage to commerce vehicles only.

South of Stung Bath, the Poipet border crossing saw just shy of 2.9 million passegers last year, Ung Oeun said.

The combination of tourists and traders passing through the checkpoint had led to severe back-ups, he said.

“Nowadays, there are traffic jams because goods transpotation is increasing and tourists are also increasing,” Ung Oeun said.

Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism, said the narrow Poipet gateway, coupled with a soaring volume of tourists, had led to difficulties.

“Opening the new gateway is the Ministry of Tourism’s wish,” he said. “Poipet lacks infrastructure [and] tourism needs many services. This narrow gateway puts us in a tough spot.”

The Stung Bath crossing is six kilometres from Poipet.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at reuy.rann@phnompenhpost.com

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